By Laura Tingo
Nothing (except perhaps Mother Nature) can stop USA member Michael Cramer from organizing an annual appreciation event for the members of UA Plumbers Local 68. In fact, for the past 18 years, the Houston, Texas Local has proudly hosted its annual Saltwater Fishing Tournament each summer – minus the summer of 2009 when Hurricane Ike made landfall east of Galveston, halting event plans.
The friendly competition, prizes, food and fun that brings together the Local’s brothers, sisters and their families is due to the behind-the-scenes, leadership efforts of Cramer, the Local’s Financial Secretary-Treasurer, who first joined Plumbers Local 68 as an apprentice in 1971. He went on to become a journeyman plumber, instructor and the Local’s elected position he has held since 1995.
“I started the tournament as another benefit to our members and their families,” Cramer said.
This year’s two-day fishing event and celebration held on the weekend of June 6-7, entertained record numbers of participants with 50 kids under the age of 13, 30 teens and 170 adults vying for prizes in the tournament and coming out to simply enjoy the day.
Cramer boasts the success of the event as a true team effort with strong support of the dedicated group he calls the Local’s “tournament team” and community businesses. To accommodate the Saturday afternoon BBQ meal and refreshments, preparations started early Friday morning.
Said Cramer, “Most of them have helped from the beginning and enjoy doing this hopefully as much as everyone who participates.”
The fishing begins at 5 p.m. Friday and wraps up with a 3 p.m. weigh-in on Saturday. Following the tallying of fish, trophies are awarded to the winners, but they aren’t the only ones who take home recognition tokens. Prizes are awarded to each person in attendance by pulling names from a bucket. “Everyone takes home a prize,” said Cramer.
He makes it a true family affair, giving youth in attendance not only the chance to fish for free, but the gift of a new fishing rod and reel. “This was a simple decision after seeing the smiles on the children’s faces that won the first couple of years,” Cramer said.
An avid outdoor sportsman, Cramer moved to Houston from Ohio in 1970 with his wife of 34 years, Joann. Their daughter Alexandra, now 23, is a graduate of Texas Christian University and is currently enrolled in a Neuropsychology post-graduate program.
Cramer enjoys hunting wild feral hogs year-round and bowhunting in deer season. He added that he enjoys hunting as much as he enjoys photography. “I shoot much more photos and video than I do with my handmade longbow and cedar shaft arrows, long guns or pistols.”
An active member of his community, he serves on several committees and boards including his role as Chairman of the Board of Union Fidelity Federal Credit Union and as Chairman of Houston’s Building & Standards Commission. As a long-time USA member, Cramer has coordinated several USA Work Boots on the Ground conservation projects in the Houston-Area, including the construction of a Youth Ground Blind and refurbishment of a fishing pier at Sheldon Lake State Park. He strongly values those contributions.
“The USA is very close to me as I appreciate our organization’s efforts in giving back something for the privilege of enjoying America’s great outdoors.”